Santa Barbara County Superior Court will resume hearings for motions to request reduction or reconsideration of bail on Friday.
On March 17, Presiding Judge Michael Carrozzo closed all county courtrooms, except for some criminal arraignment courts and juvenile courts, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In response, the Santa Barbara County Public Defender’s Office filed a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Sean Rodriguez, Christopher Huntfox, Isael Elenes, and all Santa Barbara County Jail inmates challenging the superior court’s policy of not holding hearings for pretrial release of defendants.
Public Defender’s Office Chief Trial Deputy Lea Villegas said the California Second District Court of Appeal denied the writ based on the superior court’s promise to resume bail hearings.
“On March 30, 2020, petitioners filed a petition for a writ of mandate or, alternatively, habeas corpus, challenging the respondent superior court’s policy of refusing to hear contested ex parte requests for own recognizance release or bail reduction,” read the court of appeal order denying the writ.
“Petitioners seek a writ of mandate directing the superior court to hold hearings on their motions within 48 hours. We requested and received informal responses to the petition from the People and the superior court. In response to the petition, the superior court states that it is ‘now accepting filings for reduction or reconsideration of bail,’ and is noticing hearings on the motions. The clerk of the superior court has advised this court that petitioners’ motions are set for hearing on April 10, 2020. Accordingly, the petition is denied.”
The case was formally completed on Monday.
The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office filed a 29-page informal response to the writ with the court of appeals. They argued that Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Huntfox and Mr. Elenes posed a risk to public safety and have been afforded due process because “because a judge reviewed and properly set bail for all three petitioners.”